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Madison Heights Bishop Foley baseball ready to begin quest for four-peat

  • Madison Heights Bishop Foley will be looking for a four-peat in Division 3 this year and will be led by senior captains Brad Baldwin, left, and Garrett Schilling, right.
  • Senior Austin Lukaschewski works on the ropes for what he called “arm care” during practice on Wednesday. The Ventures are the three-time defending Division 3 state champions.
  • Bishop Foley senior Mike Murley worked out on Wednesday as the Ventures baseball team prepared for the upcoming season after winning three straight Division 3 titles.
  • Bishop Foley baseball coach Buster Sunde will lead the three-time defending Division 3 state champions Ventures into a new season. Sunde said on Wednesday that Foley players are “very passionate about playing hard and they are goal oriented.”

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MADISON HEIGHTS – On a cold spring weekday inside an industrial warehouse in Madison Heights, things were heating up for the Bishop Foley baseball team.

The Ventures didn’t have bats, balls or gloves in their hands to start the practice day, rather Bishop Foley coach Buster Sunde had the three-time defending Division 3 state champions working out with ropes and large leather balls as part of the teams “arm care” workout.

“They really love baseball,” Sunde said Wednesday as the Ventures’ varsity and junior varsity programs worked out in a warehouse dedicated to everything baseball. “Once the weather is right we can get after it. Hopefully, we’ll be a better team at the end of the season.”

Sunde has a ‘secret formula’ when it comes to winning state championships.

“In previous years we try to be the best we can,” Sunde said. “We want to improve and not be the same team in March as we will be (in June). During the season we want to work on our mistakes - that’s the key, and move forward as a team.

“The players here are very passionate about playing hard and they are goal oriented,” he continued. “They are focused. To have 14 or 15 players on the team that are eyeballing and looking toward the same goal is an important part of it. We are fortunate to have everyone with the same vision.”

Sunde said “defense” wins games and this season will be no different.

“We are always a defensive team,” he said. “We try not to give away runs. Every practice we always work 1 ½ hours on defense. We swing the bat a lot - no doubt - but the best nine defensive players will be on the field.”

The Ventures, who beat Lansing Catholic Central in the state title game last year, will return 12 players to this year’s squad.

“We only lost two players and have a couple new guys and a decent looking freshman (Justin Campbell),” Sunde said. “The key will be, ‘can we come together as a team and play well.’

Leading the Ventures charge to win a Catholic League championship and another state title this year will be senior pitcher Garrett Schilling, who hasn’t lost a game in high school.

“Winning a championship the past few years and being on a good team since my freshman year – I think we can do it, again,” said Schilling, who will be playing baseball at Xavier (Ohio) next year.

“We’re brothers here.”

Senior second Brad Baldwin is in his fourth year on varsity and also likens the Ventures championship team to “being a family.”

“We’re a family of brothers,” Baldwin said Wednesday.

Senior Austin Lukaschewski will be one of Sunde’s top pitchers and also play right field.

“We look to all three of those guys (Schilling, Baldwin and Lukaschewski) to provide leadership for our younger guys,” Sunde said. “Any given day they can step up and be the man.”

Watch for pitcher/outfielder Mike Murley to be strong again this year after accumulating an 8-0 record last season on the mound.

Also, look for catcher David Chung, outfielder/infielder Michael Reid, and junior Nate Grys (committed to Western Michigan University) to “all contribute,” Sunde said.

Sophomore first baseman Thomas Brumfield, a lefty, will be counted for years to come.

“We expect big things from Thomas for years to come as a pitcher,” Sunde said.

Sunde knows about having younger players in his system. In six seasons at Foley, Sunde has won three state Division 3 titles and before that he won a regional championship and four years ago the team went to the state semifinals.

“Until weather gets better we’re just really working hard inside,” he said. “One of our goals is not to have anyone (opponents) outwork us. We have to stay focus. Everyone is anxious to get started.”

Last Updated: 3/28/2014 3:20:06 AM EST

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